Friday, July 30, 2010

Pass the Twinkies!!

You're probably wondering why anyone in their right mind would be writing a blog about Twinkies. No, I don't have an obsession with Twinkies. I don't even like Twinkies and couldn't tell you the last time I had one. It does however have a lot to do with a quote I heard that came from a pulpit not to long ago. It honestly took me by surprise and to be quite honest made me a little bit angry. In fact I couldn't write this for a while because I had to cool down. You're probably wondering what the quote was so, here it is....

"The American church needs another message on grace like a fat kid needs another Twinkie"!

Some of you may be thinking what's the big deal? In fact I've even had friend that heard the comment that thought it was funny. Some that said they could see where the person who said it was coming from. I'm not a super intense guy by nature and I sure don't look for things to get upset about. I'm a preacher, I was raised by a preacher, my sisters a preacher, my wife is a preacher so, I love preachers. In fact I can't remember the last time I got truly upset about a comment made from a pulpit. Maybe it's my interpretation of the comment but what I get out of it is this. That the American church has heard the "grace message" so much that it has become unhealthy. Now you may take away something totally different but I've been thinking about it for a while and that's what I got. I've tried to look at it from every angle I possibly can and that's what I got. I can't spin it any other direction, but if you can good for you.

As I said before, I've been raised around so called"grace preachers" all my life. All my favorite preachers today lean more to the grace side of things. My favorite books in the New Testament were written by the Apostle Paul. A man that preached grace so strongly the religious people thought he was giving people a license to sin. Honestly I believe that is what causes some preachers to make comments like this. We see people sin both in and out of church and think there must be something wrong with the message that is being preached. We better do something or else people will keep sinning. There is nothing wrong with the message of grace. Peoples way of thinking may be wrong but that doesn't mean you need change the message. Like my dad always says, "Last time I checked you didn't need a licence to sin; you've been doing it all your life".

So if we stop preaching grace what do we preach? I know.. Let's preach works!? No? How about... condemnation?
Maybe... We should go back to preaching the Law....

Here is what Paul thinks about it.
Galatians 5:7-12 (New International Version)
7You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? 8That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. 9"A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough." 10I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion will pay the penalty, whoever he may be. 11Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. 12As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!

Some extremely strong words by a man that wrote 2/3 of the New Testament! Paul had come in and preached the message of grace but religious people came in behind him and tried to put just a little bit of the law back on the church at Galatia. Read the whole chapter this is exactly what Paul is battling. The sad thing is, the same thinking Paul battled way back then we're still having to fight today. It's human nature to want to do something to "earn" the grace of God, but there is nothing you can do to earn it! You can only receive grace and most people have a hard time receiving.

Ephesians 2:8-9 (New International Version)
8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast.

Romans 5:17 (New International Version)
17For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.

Romans 11:5-6 (New International Version)
5So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. 6And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.

Hebrews 4:16 (New International Version)
16Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Romans 5:20 (New International Version)
20The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more,

I could write all day about grace. Which as far as I'm concerned is the gospel of Jesus Christ. God showing His grace to humanity despite all their failures. Now I must say this, any one who reads this and thinks "Yes! I can go live however I want to and still go to heaven". If that's the first thing that pops in your head when you hear about the grace of God. I have some good news for you. You can get saved today! Cause when I think of grace I fall more in love with the One who gave it to me freely! Don't be afraid of grace. When you mess up ask God to forgive you and move on His grace is sufficient. As for me... If grace is a Twinkie... Lord, I'm eating!!!

Sinners prayer:
Thank you for dying on a cross and paying the price for my sins. Come into my heart and forgive me of my sins. I give all I am to you. Be the Lord of my Life.
In Jesus Name, Amen!!

If you prayed this find someone and tell them and find a good bible believing church and plug in!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Camp Dream

Well this is my first time to write a blog so I wouldn't expect much. The reason I'm doing it is because one of my favorite pastors encouraged me to write down my thoughts... He said "even if no one ever reads it; it will help you become a better thinker". So, here we go.

I have been raised in church all my life and from the age of 14 felt like I was called to ministry. At the age of 16 I began leading worship for my church. I was very fulfilled in doing just that... Leading worship! I had always helped out with youth but honestly never took it very serious. I sure didn't feel called to preach (try and get me out of the pulpit now)I was just there to fill a need (something more people in the church should do today, fill a need).

That all changed about 4 years ago at a YFN when God changed everything I thought I knew about the call He had on my life. That is when I got a desire to preach, and a heart to see this generation changed by the power of God! Your probably wondering why I'm saying all this.

I began to think about it, and most of my life altering moments have occurred at camps. Which made me think, "What is it about camps"? We just got back from YFN and it never ceases to amaze me that I can take a bunch of youth on a bus ride and return with a bunch of sold out planet shakers! So, what is it about camp?

I always hear youth pastors talk about the worship and how amazing it was! I hear some talk about the preaching and how inspiring it is! I hear others talk about lights, camera, videos, dramas, and sound systems. All of these things HELP for sure but still there has to be something else. As youth pastors we look at all of this stuff and say "if I had all of this stuff my youth ministry would be huge". Really? I talked to a youth pastor not to long ago who had thought the same thing early in his career as a youth pastor. Now he has video games, arcades, a restaurant, lights, incredible sound, even an indoor basketball court! With all that he looked at me and said "all this stuff is impressive but it doesn't keep them here". Wow! You mean it's not all the stuff? If we look at all "the stuff" we strive for and think that's what determines successful ministry. Then the ministry of Jesus was a complete failure! He didn't have any of that! In ministry we have become so obsessed with all "the stuff" that we've forgotten what it's really about and what it's really all about is simply Jesus! The truth is "the stuff" is an easy out for us. If it's all "the stuff" we don't have then we have something to blame for an unfruitful ministry. The truth is the church is trying to offer teens and even adults for that matter something that is so easily found in the world and that's entertainment.

I heard Frank Damazio say, "the church is always a million dollars short and 10 years behind the world when it comes to entertainment". Don't get me wrong I love lights, big screens, and loud music but I don't think of that plays a huge roll in the success of your ministry. What the church has stopped offering is something that most people will never experience anywhere else besides church and that's the presence of God! I believe if the church would get back to this simple but powerful truth we would see a generation come running back to church and more importantly to Jesus! Don't believe me?

As I said before we just got back from youth camp; it was amazing! We go to Youth for the Nations and as far as I'm concerned there isn't a better camp out there. Amazing worship, powerful preaching, and tons of fun but most of the life changing moments didn't happen during worship, dramas, or preaching at all. The life changing moments happened in the rooms away from all "the stuff" when it was just them alone in the presence of God! I'm convinced that when we begin to offer the presence of God in our churches and in our youth ministries revival will sweep across this nation and our Camp Dream will become reality everyday!!